Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Estanislao Zuleta

I've recently been part of a project to translate some of the writings of Colombian philosopher Estanislao Zuleta (1935-1990) into English. Zuleta is one of Colombia's greatest thinkers, and translation of his writing into English is certainly due.

Many of Zuleta's writings result from close readings he has done of European thinkers and writers including Nietzsche, Freud, and Thomas Mann. His thoughts on a variety of subjects including war and the dynamics of social groups confronting adversity are especially timely in the U.S. at this time.

There will be a symposium on him at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY; 445 West 59 St., Room 1551-N, New York, NY 10019) on Feb. 16, 2008 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The symposium is sponsored by Momentos de . . ., a cultural organization.

Below are some selected lines from his writing (translated by Rosene Zaros and myself):

"The terrible attraction of collective entities, which become intoxicated with the promise of an unproblematic human community, based on an infallible word, is that they suppress indecision, doubt, and the need to think for oneself; they grant their members an identity exalted by participation; they distinguish a good inner entity—the group—from a threatening exterior."

"A great question mark must be placed over the value of what is easy; not only over its consequences, but over the thing itself, over the predilection for everything that doesn’t demand some sort of overcoming from us, that neither puts us in question nor forces us to rise to our potential."

"Just as, whether your eyesight is good or bad, you have to look from some standpoint, in the same way, you have to read from a certain standpoint, from some perspective, which is nothing other than an open question, an unanswered question, which works within us and on which we work with our reading. An open question is an ongoing search that has a specific effect on reading."

"The eradication of conflict and its dissolution among people living together is neither attainable nor desirable, not in one’s personal life—love and friendship—nor in the community. On the contrary, it is necessary to construct a social and legal space in which conflicts can manifest themselves and develop, without the opposition to the other leading to the suppression of the other, destroying it, reducing it to impotence or silencing it."


Unknown said...

I would love to read a full translation of Estanislao Zuleta´s ¨Elogio de la Dificultad¨ )Praise of the Difficulty= it is one of the richest best written texts I have ever read, in Colombia this is a must read on commencement day.

cfgalvis said...

This is indeed an amazing text and a must read for everyone. Where could I find the translated version? Would love to share with some non-spanish speaking friends.